In William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet, Laertes, Fortinbras and Hamlet find themselves in similar situations. While Hamlet waits for the right time to avenge his father's death, Laertes learns of his father's death and immediately wants vengeance, and Fortinbras awaits his chance to recapture land that used to belong to his father. Laertes and Fortinbras go about accomplishing their desires quite differently than Hamlet. While Hamlet acts slowly and carefully, Laertes and Fortinbras seek their revenge with haste. Although Laertes and Fortinbras are minor characters, Shakespeare molds them in order to contrast with Hamlet. Fortinbras and, to a greater extent, Laertes act as foils to Hamlet with respect to their motives for revenge, execution of their plans and behavior while carrying out their plans.
Although each character plots to avenge his father in the play, the motives of Laertes and Fortinbras differ greatly than that of Hamlet. Fortinbras, who schemes to rebuild his father's kingdom, leads thousands of men into battle, attempting to capture a small and worthless piece of Poland. After his uncle warned him against attacking Denmark. The added land will do little to benefit Norway's prosperity, but this campaign may cost "two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats" (4.4.26) . This shows that pride is a driving factor behind Fortinbras' plan because he is willing to put the lives of his countrymen at risk for a minimal gain. Laertes, on the other hand, is compelled to seek revenge because he loses his father and eventually his sister. The root of Laertes' revenge appears to be the love for his family because he proclaims that he will "be revenged / most throughly for [his] father" (4.5...
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...side Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974.
Mack, Maynard. "The World of Hamlet." Yale Review. vol. 41 (1952) p. 502-23. Rpt. in Shakespeare: Modern Essays in Criticism. Rev. ed. Ed. Leonard F. Dean. New York: Oxford University P., 1967.
Rosenberg, Marvin. "Laertes: An Impulsive but Earnest Young Aristocrat." Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Masks of Hamlet. Newark, NJ: Univ. of Delaware P., 1992.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html
Ward & Trent, et al. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1907-21; New York: Bartleby.com, 2000 http://www.bartleby.com/215/0816.html
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